Dubai: There is a lot of cheer that the Dubai-headquartered telco du will take on board from its first quarter 2022 results. Revenues topping Dh3 billion, net profit at Dh311 million – and a growth strategy that it launched in 2021 starting to show results.
Those together make up a huge positive for the telecom operator, which has seen broadband and mobile subscriber number growth gain traction. Taking stock of these and more is Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO of du – and he also offers the company’s thinking behind the recent 5G push into data and service packages for homes.
Is 5G for homes going to be your big growth area in the next two to three years?
du has experienced pervasive growth in the emirates for the last two years in alignment with the UAE’s vision to build a digital economy. Today, 90 per cent of the country’s population has access to our 5G network thanks to our progressing 5G roadmap. We aim to recalibrate the inherent strengths of 5G capabilities across a diverse segment of beneficiaries.
That includes the local community, government and enterprises in the UAE and across the region. We plan on expanding our services proposition, which includes mobile, fixed and ICT businesses.
At Dh299, do you think home subscribers can be compelled to switch from 4G to 5G?
The success of 5G Home Services holds a compelling value proposition - pricing is part of it. Today’s customer is not only drawn by the price, but by the enabling capability of the product proposition of ease, convenience, and simplicity. In the near future, customers will want to alternate between 4G and 5G to meet their lifestyle requirements and our efforts enable that choice.
du shed mobile subscribers at the end of 2021 - was that a worry? Is it being compensated by more subscribers switching to postpaid plans?
No, on the contrary, we have consistently attracted newer net additions. With the anticipated population growth in the country over the next decade, mobile and fixed subscriber base will only grow.
Telcos will have to reimage their proposition by digitising customer experiences, customizing product proposition and services, and - importantly - integrating into customers lifestyles of having on-demand services.
Are businesses taking up 5G in a big way? What’s the current split between business subscribers and individuals?
For a long time, industry-wide digitisation was seen as a distant reality, [and] yet have become to be expected due to advanced technologies occupying a central position in the market, whether blockchain, IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), AI, machne learning, robotics, VR and AR.
Enterprises are factoring 5G as an enabling technology for their customers, seen in industries such as healthcare, automotive, BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance), public sector and more. Therefore, we are seeing not only enterprises, but public services jump onto the digital bandwagon to best assist customer journeys as use cases become more accessible.
What according to you still repressed a stumbling block for faster growth?
In light of the above, we would prefer to elaborate on the opportunities for growth instead. The opportunities for growth are rich - and multiple.
First, innovative solutions are expected to continue surfacing as we continue realizing a 5G future, next to operational solutions provided by disruptive technologies such as Blockchain and AI whilst breaking the barriers to become more innovative as we reinvent ourselves into the digital sphere. And that includes a digital economy.
du’s share price has not been having a stellar run - any buyback plans?
With today’s share prices and liquidity at du being healthy, there are no buyback plans on the horizon.